TUCSON, Ariz. – The No. 20 Arizona gymnastics team will be back in McKale Center to face off against the No. 9 UCLA Bruins this Saturday, March 1 at 4 p.m. MST. This conference match up will be the Wildcats third home meet of the season.
“UCLA is one of the top programs in the country as well as our conference,” head coach Bill Ryden said. “They’re going to want to come in here perform well for a great road score to help their rankings. We’re expecting some first rate competition, but the team is looking to meet the challenge and protect our home floor. We are going to do everything in our power to come out with a victory.”
This home meet marks the first of three weeks performing in McKale before entering post season competition.
"We are looking forward to being home,” Ryden said. “Out of our first seven meets, five have been on the road. The team loves their home fans and preforming in McKale. We are very excited about being able to have a strong March and avoiding the fatigue that comes with travel.”
Last Saturday, the Arizona fell to in-state rival Arizona State, 195.350-196.125, in Tempe. Despite the loss, the Wildcats outscored ASU in the second half of the meet. Kristin Klarenbach added a title to her career accolades with a tie for first place on floor. Shelby Edward and Amber Wobma earn second and third place finishes floor, respectively. Meanwhile, Shana Sangston earned second place on beam and Jessie Sisler and Wobma tied for third.
Live stats will be available the day of the competition. The 4 p.m. meeting will be available for streaming online. There will also be updates on Facebook.com/ArizonaGymnastics and Twitter @AZGymnastics.
Scouting the Opposition:
The No. 9 UCLA Bruins have won five of their seven meets this season, and are coming off of a big win over No. 10 Stanford, 196.900-196.350. Their team has welcomed seven freshmen since losing five seniors at the end of last season. The Bruins are led by Samantha Peszek who recently won her second Pac-12 Specialist of the Week accolade for this season and by Sydney Sawa who received a perfect 10.000 on floor against Stanford.
UCLA is coached by Valorie Kondos Field who is in her 25th year leading the team. Under Field’s tenure, the Bruins have been to six NCAA championships.
The last meeting between Arizona and UCLA occurred in 2011 at Pauley Pavillion where the Wildcats were defeated, 195.750-194.125.
2013 Arizona Review:
The Wildcats completed the 2013 season with a season record of 17-15 and advanced to their 27th consecutive NCAA Regional Championships. Finishing sixth, overall, at the Pac-12 Championships and third in the NCAA Regional Championships, Arizona rounded out the season ranked No. 17 in the nation.
Arizona was led by senior Aubree Cristello, who was the lone qualifier to the NCAA National Championships for all-around. Cristello was one of the team’s top all-around athletes, tying her career-high 39.475 three times as well as finishing her career with 2001.250 points, the second highest in program history.
Numerous freshmen stepped up despite roster injuries including Jessie Sisler and Shelby Edwards. Both freshmen received at least one Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week award during the season. Sisler recorded a career-high 9.925, giving her one of the top program scores on floor. Edwards provided depth on beam recording scores despite an elbow injury that required her to perform an armless routine.
Look Out for New GymCats:
The Wildcats added a number of new faces this season, including two Arizona natives, Krysten Howard out of Phoenix and Selynna Felix-Terrazas from Tucson. Gabby Laub hails from Owasso, Okla., while Mackenzie Valentin comes from MustangOkla. Also added to the roster is former gymnastics manager and Plano, Texas, native Shay Fox. All of these gymnasts were top J.O. competitors and should make an immediate impact in the lineups this season.
The Arizona gymnastics team heads into the season ranked No. 17 in the 2014 Women’s Pre-Season Coaches poll. The Wildcats are one of eight Pac-12 schools to place within the top 25, including No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 22 California and No. 25 Arizona State.
Complete pre-season rankings can be found here:http://www.troester.com/gym/Wrankings/2014/WcoachesPoll.htm
Stacked to the Max:
The Arizona gymnastics team is going to compete against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. According to RoadtoNationals.com, Arizona’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 8. Of the 12 regular season meets and 16 regular season opponents, the Cats will face eight ranked teams. Those opponents include No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Utah, No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Washington, No. 21 Kentucky and No. 25 ASU.
Head coach Bill Ryden finished out the 2013 season with an overall even record of 220-198-3.
What’s Coming Up:
Next up, Arizona will continue their home stand on Sunday, March, 9 at 12 p.m. MST to take on Oregon State. The competition will be live on Pac-12 Networks. In their final home meet of the 2014 season, the Wildcats will host a quad meet on Saturday, March 15 at 4 p.m. MST including Texas Women's University, BYU and Bridgeport.